17 February 2012 – Racing Post
ANY connections between the affairs of Rangers FC, which spectacularly collapsed into the administration this week, and Arena Leisure, which is heading for a sale to the Reuben Brothers, might seem fanciful, but taken in parallel they provide examples of how not to and how to conduct a successful takeover.
Rangers’ woes are bound up in the profligacy and over-stretched ambition of Sir David Murray, whose majority stake was bought for £1 by Craig Whyte, a mystery man with a financial background that has baffled even the investigations of painstaking Scottish journalists. Due to diligence of Rangers’ corporate security seems to have been unduly lacking.
Compare that to the fastidiousness of the Reuben Brothers, whose advisers crawled over Arena’s accounts so diligently that the Takeover Panel had to sanction four extensions of their time limit to make an offer.
The Reubens might be secretive, but they could not avoid having their interests laid bare in the 72-page final public document on their 44.25p per share offer. It notes that their purchase vehicle has gross asset of more than £6.3bn, net asset value of more than £3.2bn and an authorised share capital of £1.25bn, all of which has been issued.
The small print is equally fascinating, for as well as running various international companies already outlined in the Racing Post, they hold a commercial property portfolio that covers prime London real estate, including vast swathes of Mayfair, the Millbank Centre, the Victoria HQs of John Lewis and American Express, and Oxford Street’s Primark building. Not to mention the curiously named In and Out club in St James’s Square.
As far as I can ascertain, the Reubens have commercially developed all and not closed down any of these properties, which augurs well for Arena racecourses.
More important, perhaps, is the fact that if Arena’s majority shareholder Trevor Hemmings had made a personal priority of identifying the most wealthy and dependable buyer for his stake in the company, he could hardly have done better than put his name to the Reubens’ offer.